Beijing repeats threat of consequences after Donald Trump signs HK acts

29-Nov-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The Chinese government has criticised US President Donald Trump’s signing of the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act, saying it amounted to “gross interference” in China’s internal affairs and again warning Washington there could be unspecified consequences.

In a brief statement on Thursday morning, the foreign ministry reiterated its claim that China would not shy away from taking countermeasures against the United States, without giving details.

About four hours after Trump signed the act into law, the foreign ministry said it “severely infringed on Hong Kong affairs, seriously interfered in China’s internal politics, and gravely violated international laws and the basic principles of international relations”.

“It is a blatant move of hegemony that the Chinese government and the Chinese people firmly oppose,” the statement said.



The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO) China’s top office overseeing Hong Kong policy, under the State Council, the cabinet soon followed with its own criticism, saying the act was “full of prejudice and arrogance” and underscored the “sinister intention” of the US.

“Facts have proven that the US is the biggest ‘black hand’ behind the meddling with Hong Kong,” the HKMAO statement said, without elaborating.

With no public fanfare, Trump on Wednesday signed into law an act that could bring diplomatic action and economic sanctions against the Hong Kong government, brushing off repeated warnings by China against such a move. China had separately summoned three US envoys in less than a week to warn there could be consequences for passing the act.

Trump also signed into law the Protect Hong Kong Act, which will prohibit the sale of US-made munitions such as tear gas and rubber bullets to law enforcement agencies in Hong Kong.

“I signed these bills out of respect for President Xi [Jinping], China and the people of Hong Kong,” Trump said in a White House press release. “They are being enacted in the hope that leaders and representatives of China and Hong Kong will be able to amicably settle their differences, leading to long-term peace and prosperity for all.”

In its response, the Chinese foreign ministry also said Beijing remained committed to implementing “one country, two systems” the principle under which Hong Kong retained certain freedoms and a degree of autonomy on its 1997 handover from Britain to China.

The democracy act allows Washington to suspend Hong Kong’s special trading status based on an annual US assessment of whether the city retains a sufficient degree of autonomy under one country, two systems. It can also sanction people for acts undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy, and directs its officers not to deny visas to people subjected to “politically motivated” arrests or detentions.

An hour before the foreign ministry’s statement, the Hong Kong government also responded to the signing of the acts, saying it would further encourage anti-government protesters in the city.

More than 4,000 people have been arrested during almost six months of protests, triggered by a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed the transfer of criminal suspects to mainland China’s opaque legal system.

“The two acts are unreasonable,” the Hong Kong government said. “Although human rights and democracy are mentioned in the title of the act, some of the provisions in the act are actually about export control and enforcement of the sanctions imposed by the United Nations in Hong Kong, which are totally unrelated to human rights and democracy in Hong Kong.

“The two acts will also send an erroneous signal to protesters, which is not conducive to alleviating the situation in Hong Kong.”

It added that the US had “enormous economic interests” in Hong Kong and said that the “unilateral” actions by Washington would have negative impacts on its relationship with Hong Kong and on American interests.



Category: China

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